GUEST BLOG: Philip Patston: Pride and prejudice – when a community turns on itself


I’ve been keeping abreast of the drama that has been unfolding around the police’s involvement in the Auckland Pride Parade, but only from a distance. I’ve avoided the hui and Facebook rants, but I’ve heard about them second hand from friends and colleagues.

I can see both sides of the argument, but I’m deeply troubled about what I’ve heard. For me, whether or not the police march and how they dress, pales in comparison to the way this issue has been addressed within the LGBTQI+ community.

Overall, as is so usual with issues such as these, there is a polemic discourse about whether or not the police march in uniform. This has split the community into two factions – “the fors versus the againsts”. It’s interesting that we always take these oppositional stances, even in the context of a compromise. The option of bickering over whether or not the police should march has been taken away, so let’s sling mud over their attire.

There are other themes to the central debate. This is not a deeply researched analysis, just my impressions as I watch and listen from the sidelines.

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Power dynamics

One of the key dynamics behind the banning of uniforms is that Māori, and by association takatāpui, are over seven times more likely to fall victim to police brutality. Police marching in civvies is symbolic of an opportunity for healing this inequality, as Emmy Rākete, a spokesperson for People Against Prisons Aotearoa, explains to Guyon Espiner in this RNZ interview:

As Codee MacDonald says in an opinion piece on the site:

“Pride as a celebration is a space that should be enjoyed by our entire community, not just a majority. As Gay, cisgender men, it’s high time we check our privilege and start to look at things from a ‘community’ perspective rather than a ‘gay’ perspective. Let’s rally together and stand for those that have fought with, and even for us, in the past.”

Neo-liberalism and capitalism

In the same RNZ interview, it is mentioned that “[s]o far Vodafone, BNZ, ANZ, Westpac, NZME, the Ponsonby Business Association, NZDF and the Rainbow New Zealand Trust have all withdrawn support for the parade.”

Espiner, surprisingly putting his foot in his mouth, feels the need to ask, if all those corporate/government agencies aren’t going to be there, “who’s going to be left in this parade then?” Rākete calmly states the bleeding obvious: “Gay people probably.” No shit, Guyon.

That the Parade has become the PR platform for institutions to prove their “rainbow-friendliness” is farcical. Not only is it the antithesis of the community connectedness that Pride represents, but it is also actively fueling division among us.


For me, the most concerning and sad thing about this division in the community is the way individual people have expressed their opinion. I’ve heard of cis, white gay men shouting at transfolk in community meetings. I’ve heard of politicians debating with community members on social media who disagree with their stance. The Pride Board has said they have “heard numerous stories of transphobia, racism, misogyny and homophobia directed at members.”

Minority infighting, in my opinion, is one of the most destructive phenomenon in our society. It cuts to the very heart of diversity and identity. As marginalised people we have to learn to disagree with each other with respect, dignity and generosity.

What do I think?

The bottom line for me is this: The Pride Board is an elected group of people charged with the responsibility of kaitiakitanga over the kaupapa of Pride. They are generous, committed volunteers who give their time and energy graciously and willingly. I feel obligated to respect their decisions, even if I disagree with them, not through my toys out of the cot.

I think that the courteous way forward is to honour the trustees’ decision. Let them do their job. Bugger the corporates and institutions. Let’s hang together as community.

If you’d like to help the Coalition for a truly inclusive Pride replace Pride’s corporate funding with community pūtea, please donate here »


Philip Patston is one of NZ’s top diversity consultants and Managing Director of 


  1. Its good to see someone respecting the right of the Pride Board to democratically run Gay Pride. Banning cops in uniform is world wide because young queer people see capitalism collapsing and know that its time to chose sides – with the working people, or with the ruling class and its militarised police state – in what is an life and death class struggle for the future.

    • Dave, your denunciation of LGBT police in the name of “class consciousness” and “class warfare” is despicable. As a marginalised group your pile-on puts you in the same class as oppressors based on race, wealth, etc. You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

      Welcome to the system of oppressing a minority. Dial H for Hypocrisy.

    • well put Dave

      would not want the cops on a union or solidarity march, however they might dress themselves–they are part of the state forces that enforce capitalist oppression, and exploitation

      yes, there may be some individual cops that identify personally with the pride activity, and some that support the middle class rainbow community vibe, “big deal” in my view when measured against the disproportionate racist profiling, assault, and worse, on Māori/Polynesians in particular, not forgetting union picketers!

  2. So if the next world war comes who will fight for our ‘freedoms” then?

    Will the Pride Board or the rainbow supporters advocate for joining up for our side in another war to protect our freedoms?

    Yes we need to choose our side, as we will be called upon again to fight wont we?

  3. The police exist to enforce the law. That’s it.

    So if, in a bad turn of events, we ended up with a Government who decided to Criminalise homosexuality, then these very same police would enact those laws. Just as they have in the past.

    No questions asked.

    Because that’s what the police do. In any revolution, its the police who defend the rulers right to the bitter end.

    Thats why the police are treated with a certain level of skepticism.

    So let them wear a Tshirt, to celebrate their current manifestation and policy of inclusion, and the right of individual police to celebrate their identity..

    but ditch the full uniform at the parade, and all it represents, because its more than just one small group; there are still whole neighbourhoods and communities in this country who recoil at the sight of the uniform.

    • Siobhan, the police don’t “defend the rulers right to the bitter end.” They enforce the law, they don’t enact the law, and your criticisms of the law should be directed at the people who actually make the law, the politicians. Ever lobbied a politician ?

      Unless of course, you think that police should break the law, and turn a blind eye to criminals – burglars, rapists, pedophiles, husband beaters,drug pushers, gangs, murderers, desperate mental health sufferers, LGBT communities,wayward and troubled adolescents, general nutters. These are just some of the people that cops interact with, permanently. Could you do it ?

      Or perhaps you would prefer that we abolish the police altogether, so that whole neighbourhoods and communities don’t recoil at the sight
      of the uniform ?

      Get real.

      It has happened before in this country, in 1951, that when the government did pass repressive legislation to disgracefully turn the people against each other, they called in the armed forces to act as their agents.

      What’s happened before can happen again. And sometimes when govts utilise armed forces, the armed forces become a permanent fixture. Not always the best idea.

      The near hysteria this week from police haters hasn’t been greatly edifying. If chunks of the trans community cannot cope with cops in uniforms, then just let the police swan off and be with their families or mow their lawns – don’t try and hold them hostage to complicated group dynamics.

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